Name Laurie Lucking
Where are you from Minneapolis, Minnesota
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I grew up in Wisconsin and always loved to read. After graduating from St. Olaf College with majors in English and economics, I went on to the University of Minnesota Law School. I practiced as an attorney for several years but left my career to become a stay-at-home mom, at which point I discovered writing fiction is much more fun than drafting contracts! I now make my home in Minnesota with my husband and two, young, red-headed sons.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I recently signed a publishing contract with Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. My debut young adult fantasy novel, Common, will release in early 2018!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always enjoyed reading and making up stories, but creative writing didn’t come naturally to me in grade school so I assumed I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. When I became a stay-at-home mom I found myself in desperate need of a project, and I had the crazy idea to write a book. I started writing a story assuming that I’d give up within a week, but instead I fell in love.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It came on very gradually, but I think it was when I completed the rough draft of my first manuscript. At that point it was clear I had the perseverance to stick with a story to the end rather than just dabble with it.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book, which has for now been set aside (but I hope to rewrite it someday!), was inspired by the stories I loved to read over and over again as a teenager. It reimagined the premise of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew in a setting that was part fairy tale, part Regency England.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My tagline is Fantasy Adventure, Fairy Tale Romance. I love writing stories in a fantasy world where anything can happen, but with a historical feel and a strong thread of romance. I prefer writing in first-person point-of-view because it helps me develop the character’s voice and allows the reader to really experience the story from the protagonist’s perspective.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The original title for my upcoming debut novel was With You It Would Remain, which was inspired by a quote from Jane Eyre that I felt fit my story well: “All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.”
When my publisher encouraged me to come up with a title that would be shorter and more attention-catching, we landed on Common, because it reflects the main character’s misconception of herself due to her status as a servant.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want readers to know that no matter how insignificant or common they may seem due to their circumstances, their life has an important purpose and they can rise above to accomplish extraordinary things.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My book takes place in a fantasy world, so obviously some elements aren’t very realistic. But my main character’s journey of discovering her self-worth reflects a lot of my own personal growth, and her interactions with her family, friends, and fellow servants were largely inspired by my own experiences. For example, two stable hands like to poke fun at my main character, which is reminiscent of the teasing I experienced in high school.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
One of the books that has influenced me the most as a reader and a writer was Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Levine’s mix of light fantasy, character development, hints of fairy tales, and innocent romance produced a story I revisited time and time again as a teen, and I hope to achieve a similar blend in my stories. Other authors that have had a large impact on me are Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Shannon Hale, and Robin McKinley. So the fact that I write YA with historical and fantasy elements probably comes as no surprise J
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’ve discovered so many wonderful new authors since becoming a writer, it’s almost impossible to choose! To name a few: Sara Ella has an amazing voice, Julie Hall’s descriptions and world-building blow me away, and Carrie Anne Noble writes some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read. And all three have a blend of fantasy and romance in their books that I love!
One favorite author I haven’t mentioned yet is J.K. Rowling. I think a big part of the reason her books are so popular is because her characters are so easy to relate to and she interweaves magical elements into the ordinary world with such skill. She also managed to make 600-page books feel short, which is a true feat!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My critique group! They offer support and encouragement whenever I need it, plus took the time to fill my very rough first draft with edits and comments that brought my writing to a whole new level.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do see it as a career, but a part-time one, if that makes sense. At the moment being a stay-at-home mom for my two little boys takes top priority, and once they’re in school I hope to supplement my writing with some legal consulting so I don’t have to put pressure on myself to earn a full-time equivalent income from my books.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I still have a chance, since it’s not out yet J But I wish I had discovered the heart of my character’s voice sooner, because it would’ve saved me a ton of time editing!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I love books (both reading and hoarding them!), and nothing captivates me more than a well-told story. I’ve long enjoyed daydreaming about alternate endings or different ways scenes could play out, which eventually led to brainstorming stories of my own. I just can’t believe it took me so long to start putting those stories on paper!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s an excerpt from Common, in which my protagonist, Leah, is meeting with Rafe (a.k.a. Prince Raphael) in their favorite closet hideout on her birthday:
I crossed the room to sit on one of the barrels, still clutching the open box.
Rafe took a seat on an adjoining barrel. “Even if you won’t be able to wear it out there any time soon, would you like to try it on?”
“I would, but…” Embarrassment clenched my stomach. “I don’t even know how to unfasten the clasp.”
He chuckled, taking the box from my hands. “Who would’ve guessed I’d end up teaching a young lady about jewelry?” He lifted the pendant off its small satin pillow, letting it dangle as he took the clasp between each thumb and index finger. “Here, it’s really quite simple.”
My mind still reeled from the enormity of the gift, making it impossible to concentrate as he demonstrated the workings of the catch mechanism.
He paused and held the ends apart. “Now, turn around and lift your hair.”
I obeyed, holding my breath as he brought the pendant to lie at the base of my throat. His warm fingers grazed my neck as he secured the clasp, sending a tingle through my shoulders. Thank the new moon he couldn’t read my expression.
Rafe cleared his throat. “There.”
I lowered my braid to rest on my back once more and turned towards him. Reluctant to meet his eye, I glanced down at the gleaming jewel that produced such a stark contrast to the patched, faded bodice of my dress.
His gaze flitted to the pendant before returning to my face. “Perfect.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It’s hard to come up with new ways to say things! I tend to use the same descriptors when trying to express characters’ responses or emotions, and then have to go back and get really creative to find something more unique.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
The only traveling I’ve done so far was to the Realm Makers Conference, which was in Pennsylvania last year (this year it’s in Reno, Nevada). It was well worth the trip since that’s where I connected with my publisher, plus I met many amazing new writer friends!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Sara Helwe designs all the covers for Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, and she’s amazing! Check out her art here: http://sara-helwe.com/.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For me, the hardest part is working through discouragement. It’s hard to hear that a section isn’t working or that you need to start the story in a different place than you thought, and then get up the energy to put all those hours of work in. It’s also hard pushing through on the days when you’re wondering why you even bother since there are so many other authors already out there struggling to get their books in front of readers.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that casual writing can be far more effective than making it sound professional and formal, especially when writing for a young adult audience. When I allowed myself to loosen up and drop in the occasional fragment or single-word sentence, it made my voice so much more interesting and compelling.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Raffey Cassidy has a good look for Leah. She’s a little young yet, but the movie wouldn’t come out for at least a few years anyway, right? J
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Find a community of fellow writers. Writing can feel very lonely at times, and it’s critical to have the support, advice, and encouragement of other writers who understand the unique joys and challenges of the writing and publishing journey.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
To my future readers: thank you!!! I’m honored and humbled to think that someone might choose to spend their time and money on something I wrote when there are so many other books out there.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
At the moment I’m beta-reading Arbiter by Jamie Foley, which is amazing so far! Next on my list is Halayda by Sarah Delena White.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Hmm. According to my parents (and the rough state of the book), I really liked Pat the Bunny. I definitely remember being fond of Corduroy.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I tend to appreciate dry wit and someone with a self-deprecating sense of humor (think Peeta from The Hunger Games), but my kids say a lot of things that make me laugh, too! I tear up pretty easily, so anything from a song to a commercial to a sappy moment in a book or movie can get me crying if I’m in the right mood.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Jane Austen. I adore every one of her novels and I wish we could just sit around and talk about books and life. The opportunity to experience her wisdom and wit first-hand would be amazing.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Hmm, I must admit I’ve never given that any thought J Something like “A+ for Effort” because I feel like I throw myself into so many projects and I don’t succeed at a lot of them, but I really do try!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I enjoy singing, playing piano, and taking walks around the many beautiful lakes in Minnesota.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
My husband and I enjoy watching The Big Bang Theory together. I also was a big fan of Gilmore Girls and Downton Abbey when they were still airing. For movies, I tend to prefer romantic comedies and adaptations of books I love.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Foods: Pizza, comfort foods like chicken pot pie or chicken and dumpling soup, pasta, and anything involving chocolate J
Colors: Blue, green, and any combination of the two
Music: Anything I can sing along to!
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Since my background is in law, if I weren’t a writer I would probably still be working as a lawyer. Another job I think would be fascinating would be a literary agent.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I do! My website, www.laurielucking.com, gives some insights into my writing and updates every month or so, plus you can sign up for my monthly newsletter there!
I also am a contributor to www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of young adult fantasy.